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ODA Committee Update
dated November 29, 2002
posted Dec. 12, 2002



November 29, 2002


Today we celebrate the eighth anniversary of the founding of the ODA
Committee. Congratulations to all who have been with us since the start,
and to those who have joined and helped along the way on the road to a
barrier-free Ontario.


Eight years ago today, around 20 people unexpectedly ended up in a room
together at Queen's Park, Toronto. They had a shared dream of a
barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities. They also had a
shared goal of winning a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities
Act to get us to that dream. Little did we know what we got started that

In the eight years since we founded the ODA Committee, we have grown into
the biggest, broadest most grassroots cross-disability coalition Ontario
has ever seen. We have won the recognition of Ontario's political parties,
the media, and the public. We got a new piece of legislation passed last
year. While it is disappointing, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001
is a first step towards the ultimate strong and effective law that we
continue to seek.

We have also won recognition on the international stage. Our activities are
monitored by various governments and disability organizations elsewhere in
different corners around the world. Our experience and our ideas have been
sought in recent months by representatives of the Governments of France,
China and most recently, the European Union.

The European Union passed a directive requiring all of its member states to
pass an anti-discrimination law by 2006. It must include, among other
things, provisions forbidding discrimination in employment based on
disability, and a duty to accommodate persons with disabilities in the

ODA Committee chair David Lepofsky was recently invited by the Government
of Denmark to make a presentation at a recent European Union conference in
Denmark, attended by all states in the European Union. That conference
focused on what steps those states should take to enact human rights
legislation required of them by the year 2006. The conference wanted to
learn from the OdA Committee what we had learned here, what we proposed
here, and how they can benefit from our knowledge and expertise. CBC
Radio's "As It Happens" program interviewed the ODA Committee chair over
the phone from Denmark, and aired this interview across Canada on November
14, 2002.

We now have wonderful ties in several countries in the European Union, who
are monitoring our work and eager to share with us their ideas. As we mark
this eighth anniversary of the founding of the OdA Committee, we should
re-dedicate ourselves to our ongoing campaign for a barrier-free Ontario.
We should celebrate our successes to date. We can also dream of a time when
the Government of Ontario will be as interested in our ideas and expertise
as are the Governments of France, China and the European Union!

Thanks again to all who have supported our cause and who have spread the
word to friends, family and co-workers about the need for a strong,
effective ODA to achieve a barrier-free Ontario.


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